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Yoas Mountain - Coronado National Forest
Yoas Mountain - Coronado National F...
along the edge of the Whirlpool
The Whirlpool Rapids are rated 6 on a navigatable scale from 1 (easiest) to 6 (most dangerous). Whirlpool Rapids at White Water Walk are traveling at about 48km/hr or 30mph, creating the Whirlpool Rapids - "Class 6 white-water rapids". The Whirlpool Rapids consists of 4 kilometers of 3-5 meter standing waves, making this stretch of whitewater the largest/finest series of standing waves in North America.
The Whirlpool trails are a few miles downstream from Niagara Falls, on the United States side of the border. Here are some of the most dangerous rapids in North America. Two staircases go down roughly 400 feet and are 1 mile apart. Trails connect each staircase at the bottom and top. Of all hikes in Western New York, it probably has one of the highest amounts of elevation change. There are a series of trails here which are connected together - the Whirlpool trail, the Devil's Hole trail, and the Niagara Gorge Rim trail. This walk involves portions of all 3 trails.
Park at Whirlpool State Park and walk West. You will find a trail going North and South. Turn right and head North. After about 3/4 of a mile, you will see a staircase leading down. You can take this down or continue approximately 1 more mile to Devil's Hole State Park, and go down the stairs here. Either staircase will take you to the bottom trail which is where you'll be closer to the rapids and have better views of the rapids. The trail at the bottom is well-maintained and easy to follow. This trail can be taken South to the Whirlpool area and beyond that. This is the area where there's a sharp bend in the river and what looks like a small bay on the Canadian side. The currents here are among the strongest in this area.
There is a jet boat tour given by a company called Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours (tap for more info). The tour starts in Lewiston, New York, and rides to the Whirlpool area but for safety does not go to the area with the strongest waves.
Less than 1/4 mile South of the Whirlpool area, you will see a large rock formation out near the rapids. 2 trails are leading down to this rock formation. It is safe to walk on these rocks however you should pay attention to the level of the water. In Sept 2021, I witnessed the water level changing drastically in about 15 minutes from a tiny narrow stream 1 inch deep to a stream that was a foot deep. It was a bit scary but I was able to get back to the main trail by walking through the 1-foot deep stream! My sneakers were soaked but I didn't get swept into the rapids. Other people who I've talked to have had a similar experience at various times. Be aware of your surroundings.
It is possible to hike at least 1 mile past the rock formation. You will see a sign that marks the end of the trail. Then, head back and walk up either staircase to complete your loop. You may see some jet boats going by during the daytime. In my opinion, this is one of the best hikes in Western New York.
Check out the Official Route and Triplog.